Saturday 21 Jul 2018 | 09:52 | SYDNEY
Saturday 21 Jul 2018 | 09:52 | SYDNEY

Floating in a most peculiar way


Sam Roggeveen


22 March 2012 15:44

Perhaps it is testing the reader's patience to feature two aviation-related videos in one day, but it's hard to resist this gorgeous HD footage compiled from cameras attached to the rockets that boost the Space Shuttle into orbit. If you're pressed for time, just go to 2:30 for a shot of the booster falling away from the Shuttle orbiter, followed by the most extraordinary silence.

To move from the ethereal to the profane, it obviously costs an enormous amount of money to launch the Shuttle, which is one reason they have been retired and that NASA is somewhat belatedly funding the private sector to build space boosters. Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind SpaceX, has apparently claimed that 80% of the current costs of lifting people and cargo into space is taken up with administration.

If SpaceX can bring that cost down on the scale claimed (here's one account suggesting it is plausible), it opens space-flight to an entirely new market and creates new opportunities for scientific and technological innovation. But is the market actually there? Here's a highly sceptical assessment of the SpaceX business model, though note the small print about the author's affiliations.

(H/t Kottke.)